Some of us are flat-footed, some have high arches. Some of us run marathons and some stick to Parkrun. There are runners who find their bliss by scaling a mountain, and others who prefer to keep the springy asphalt of the track beneath their feet.
You get the point - each and every one of us has unique needs as a runner. So next time you consider buying a pair of shoes because the elites are wearing them, or simply because they look cool, you may want to reconsider! Your running shoes will last around 300-500 miles, which is a lot of miles to be doing in the wrong shoe, and wearing the wrong pair is an injury just waiting to happen.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RUNNING GAIT
Pronation? Supination? Neutral? Just what are they? Let me explain!
Let's start off with the fundamentals of running gait. Essentially your gait is how your foot moves to accompany your running movements. Your ankle and muscles contract in a certain way which moves your foot to allow for shock absorption. There are three different ways that our bodies do this:
NEUTRAL GAIT / 'NORMAL' PRONATION.
This effectively means that your ankles don't have to compensate as much because your body does a good job in absorbing the shock of your running. There will be an element of supination or pronation in your running gait, because the majority of the time us runners will have some form of weakness. Neutral gait is when your foot comes into contact with the ground and rolls inwards about 15% to absorb the shock of running.
Overpronation is where your foot rolls at a more excessive rate as your foot hits the ground. This is why you see a lot of running shoes that offer 'support' in them to counteract this over-compensated roll of the foot to encourage higher stability with your foot and ankle. Between 50-60 percent of us runners are mild overpronators, whilst 20-30 percent are serious overpronators.
A lot of people think that overpronation is a bad thing, however, that’s simply not true - plenty of elite runners overpronate. Haille Gebrselassiehe, for example. He wasn't plagued with injury, nor did it slow him down. It’s simply your body’s natural way of dealing with the impact. So don't fall into the trap of being obsessed with changing your running gait to neutral, because that could leave you with some implications.
SUPINATION / UNDERPRONATION
This is the exact opposite of overpronation - your foot externally rotates to deal with the impact of your foot hitting the floor, the outer part of your heel hits the ground first as your ankle rolls out. This type of running gait has potential implications on the stability of your ankles because they are having to overcompensate and work in the opposite direction to what is natural.
Not only does training in the right shoe gives you the support and balance that you need depending on how your feet move, but it also gives you a performance edge. Imagine a scenario where you have been training in the wrong shoes for around 6 months. If you suddenly change to the right shoes that your feet actually need, you are going to feel 10X better!
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR RUNNING SHOES
The first step is getting a gait analysis. You can get this done in most running shoes and sportswear shops. A good gait analysis won’t only tell you your pronation, but they should also be able to tell you what kind of arches you have if you don’t already know. Gait analysis is certainly an important step, but it’s not the only aspect to consider when choosing your running shoes.
Consider the distance, speed and terrain you plan to be running on to help you narrow down your choice. At the end of the day, however, comfort trumps everything. After all, you are going to be running a fair amount in them, especially if you’re training for long distances. You need to have a shoe that will feel comfortable to run in for an hour or more.
Once you’ve done your gait analysis, ASICS has an amazing tool that helps you select what running shoes you need, click here to go to that tool!
Personally, I can never choose just one pair of shoes, so don’t worry if you can’t either! I’m a big fan of running shoe rotation, not only from a performance perspective (as you’re able to specifically select the best shoe for each run) but it also prolongs the life of your running shoes. For faster session days I’ll wear the ASICS Novablast, for my tempo running the EVORIDE and for my easy/long run days a mix between the GLIDERIDE and Gel Nimbus 22.
Rotating your running shoes can also help from a running form perspective, each shoe is different and will use different small stability muscles with each pair - this not only allows you to get more miles out of the shoe, but it also gives your body a break in certain areas over time!
A quick tip to finish: Always try on your shoes in the afternoon/evening or after a workout because your feet will swell slightly throughout the day and if you always run after work then this will be beneficial to you.
Digital Marketing Executive from Norwich
Age group: Open
Club: Bungay Black Dog Running Club
Coach: Self Coached
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